As MMO players will recall, in March of this year, the Chinese government put a freeze on reviewing and approving video games for domestic release, resulting in many game releases — such as that of this year’s Monster Hunter World — being considerably delayed or halted altogether. But according to a recent report from GamesIndustry.biz, which comes courtesy of the South China Morning Post, the newly formed Online Games Ethics Committee (part of the State Administration of Press and Publications, part of the government’s propaganda department) “began operating ‘recently,’ and has already reviewed an initial cohort of 20 games.”
Of those 20 games, however, “only nine were approved and 11 were rejected until they ‘eliminate moral hazard.” According to an unsubstantiated post on Reddit, the nine “approved,” including Blade & Soul, League of Legends, and multiple Blizzard titles, still require significant “corrective measures,” while those rejected include a range of battle royale titles from PUBG and Fortnite to H1Z1. The rationales range from gore and sexual content and vulgarity to “inharmonious chat,” which… OK, yeah, that’s fair.
The new approval committee is part of the Chinese government’s recent crackdown on video games amid concerns “about the relationship between games and everything from addiction to myopia.” Since the freeze began earlier this year, “the growth of China’s video games market . . . has slowed dramatically, and local publishers have been suffering their own financial struggles,” though GamesIndustry.biz notes that many publishers have stated that “they’re unconcerned by the current freeze on games,” though we’ve certainly seen Tencen react already.
Whether the market will be revivified by the onset of the Online Games Ethic Committee’s operation remains to be seen.